Ireland No II]
A RADICAL NONCONFORMIST, JOHN
A HOME RULER, WILLIAM.
W. — It's all very well for you to argue, but there are three
things I find in this question which will make me a Home Euler
/.—What are they ?
W. — Why, first, I can't see why, if the majority in Ireland
want Home Eule, they shouldn't have it ; then, I think, that if
we trust the people of England we oughtn't to refuse to trust the
Irish ; and, lastly, I believe we must do justice to Ireland.
J. — Well, let's try and go through some of your arguments.
W. — All right. You won't, though, I suppose, want any argu-
ments for my first reason, because you, as a Radical, surely
believe in the right of the majority.
J". — Certainly I do ; but then it all depends in what area you
take your majority. If it is throughout the whole kingdom, why
then its will must, of course, prevail. What I say is this. Don't
apply your principle in little bits. There is no doubt but that
the majority of people in the United Kingdom is naturally in
sympathy with the Protestants of Ireland. Why, then, should
they withhold that sympathy because the Protestants in Ireland
are mixed up with a Catholic majority ? See how your principle
applies if you work it out. I live in a division of an English
county where there is a large Tory majority, and where the
village parsons and the Primrose League are not inclined to
show Eadical Dissenters like me very much consideration, and
would like, if they had the chance, to do a great deal more to
keep us in our proper places, as they call it. However, we can
get on pretty well, because there are plenty of Liberals in the rest
of England to look after our interests in Parliament. Don't you
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think we should have a right to complain very bitterly if, instead
of protecting us in our division, the rest of the Liberals in
England were to say : u Oh, well, you must remember in North
Loamshire you are in a minority, and the will of the majority
must prevail. We are sorry to lose you, but we must part now,
and we dare say the majority of Tories won't be quite so cruel to
you as you might expect from their talk."
PP. — Well, I suppose it would seem rather a shame, and, of
course, we don't want to apply the principle to anything but
nations and countries.
J. — Ah ! is that so ? Then when Home Eule is given to Ireland,
and Ulster demands Home Bule from Ireland, vou think Ulster
ought to have it.
IP". — Yes ; I suppose so.
J. — But you know the Irish won't do this. They say they
won't, and they mean it.
IP. — Stop a minute ; now I come to think of it I believe the
Irish might reasonably refuse the demand, because Ireland is cwie
entire island, and that makes a great difference.
J. — You would, then, as I understand it, only grant lie:
Eule to an island, and never to a part of it ?
PP.— Yes; that is it.
jr — So you would refuse Home Eule to Scotland because i: is
part of the island called Great Britain : but you would grant it to
Bute, Anglesca, or the Isle of Wight '.'
PP.— It's all very well to split hairs, but I Bay, then. I will only
do it when the place isboUi an island and a count. • in
race and creed as Ireland is.
J. — But that is just what it is not. It has two races, two
nations, two creeds within it, and is not nearly so united in
population as, say, Scotland is.
W. — I admit there are some difficulties, and I confess I don't
quite see how to meet them. However, I really rest on this
argument which is unanswerable. We trust the people of
England ; why not trust the people of Ireland ?
J. — Yes ; we do trust the people of England ; but that seems to
me no reason why the people of England should trust the Iris-h
to go alone. We trust them sufficiently, I contend, by allowing
them to send their representatives to mix with ours ; but I think
no one who knows the facts will trust them beyond this point.
You can't entirely trust people who have been brutalised and
demoralised, as so many of the Irish peasants have been, by tne
most cruel and disastrous land system that any country was ever
cursed with- — a system which, though Mr. Gladstone has done
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much to remedy it, still remains far from perfect. Then, too,
think of the difference in political training that the Englishman
has had. He has learnt those splendid lessons of self-govern-
ment, self-organisation, self-respect, courage, and independence
which the Nonconformist Churches, to their eternal credit, have
taught him. The Irishman instead has been held firm in the
grip of the Eoman Church, which, whatever we may think of its
doctrines, certainly renders men less fit to be true and capable
citizens, and makes them of necessity narrow and intolerant.
W. — Well, I never said that you could entirely trust the people
of Ireland ; but, at any rate, we ought to do justice to Ireland.
That I mean, and that I stick to.
/. — Now, at last, you and I have got together. I want to see
justice done to Ireland as much as you.
W. — No ; you don't, for you won't grant Home Eule.
J". — But why should you assume that is justice ? I don't think
it is. I think it the height of injustice. Do you think it justice
that the Catholic majority should have possession of the educa c -
tion to the exclusion and the persecution of the Protestant
W, — You make a terrible fuss about these Protestants, but you
know they bullied and persecuted the Catholics when they had
J. — I know some of them did ; but, mind you, not the Dissenters
(who were equally persecuted with the Catholics in old days),
but the Irish Church, whose domination is now at an end. It was
very bad of us to allow it, I admit, but the last of this has been
stopped for fifteen years, and since then the English Government
has held the balance quite impartially between Catholics and
Protestants. That's what I call justice. It won't set the old
persecution right to begin a new one, will it ? To let the Catholics
have their turn, and to encourage them to take their revenge upon
their old enemies, does not seem to me much like justice.
W. — Oh, I dare say the religious question is difficult ; but I
want justice for Ireland in the widest se»nse.
J. — So do I. I want to see England act with vigour and justice
and put a stop to Irish wrongs wherever they can be found.
For instance, I believe we can find a peaceful solution of the Irish
land troubles, and one which a Home Eule Parliament will never
find. You want a strong Government to deal with the land
system — a Government which will be obeyed by every one. But
the Irish Government will be miserably weak. It will not be
obeyed, and when Government is not obeyed you get a state of
anarchy. Now, anarchy has one certain effect — misery, starva-
tion, and every form of suffering for those who are weakest. I
believe Home E ul in Ireland would mean a state of misery for
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the peasants which could not be equalled in even the record of
W. — But we should stop anarchy with English soldiers.
J. — That, I believe, is just what you would not do. I don't think
you would ever get English or Scotch soldiers to shoot down
Irish Protestants, fighting as they would be for their lives and
liberties. I know I would sooner die than do it, and so, I believe,
would you when it came to the point. No ! I believe there might
have been some truth about not getting justice for Ireland in the
old Parliaments of landlords ; but it seems to me treason to Radi-
cal principles to doubt that in a really democratic Parliament, such
as, thank God ! we now have, Ireland would not meet with justice
or perhaps with more than justice — with indulgence. I believe tins
Parliament can be trusted to answer the appeal for vigour of
Government in Ireland which Sidney Smith made nearly a
hundred years ago. The appeal fell unanswered and unheeded
on the ears of Mr. Percival and his Administration ; but it would
not remain unanswered now. This is the vigour of Government
we Radicals will apply to Ireland : " The vigour I love consists
in finding out wherein subjects are aggrieved, in relieving them,
in studying the temper and genius of a people, in consulting their
prejudices, in selecting proper persons to lead and manage them,
in the laborious, watchful, and difficult task of increasing public
happiness by allaying each particular discontent.''
This Vigour, not HOME RULE, is the Remedy
for IRISH WRONGS.
Published by the Liberal Committee for the Maintenance of the
Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland.,
35, Spring Gardens, S.W.